Making the Most of the Total Solar Eclipse

Baylor education expert offers tips on how to enjoy the eclipse with children.

March 21, 2024
Family viewing a total eclipse.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Contact: Kelly Craine, Baylor University Media & Public Relations, 254-297-9065
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WACO, Texas (March 21, 2024) – On April 8, 2024, something miraculous will happen across the United States — a total solar eclipse with Waco right in a prime viewing location for the path of totality. For four minutes the sky will be completely darkened in the middle of the day, after a 360-degree sunset. What is the best way to prepare your family, especially children, beforehand to get the most of the experience?

Enter Suzanne Nesmith, Ph.D., associate dean of undergraduate education in the Baylor University School of Education and associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, who specializes in elementary science education. Nesmith has been preparing Baylor education students for the total solar eclipse, with coursework that included teaching in local schools about educational activities to help school children understand and fully engage, understand and enjoy the eclipse.

Three ways for families to get ready for and enjoy the eclipse

Ahead of the April 8 eclipse, Nesmith offers a few points and activities to help families Realize, Prepare and Experience the eclipse safely and in full capacity.


Experiencing a total solar eclipse where you live is a once-in-a-lifetime event. That makes this April 8 eclipse so special in Texas, as this is the last time we will experience this length of totality, in the central part of Texas, for the next 500 years.

A solar eclipse happens when there is an alignment of the sun, moon and earth. During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow on the earth, and during a total eclipse, the moon completely blocks all the sun’s light, allowing viewers to look directly – with eclipse safety glasses! – at the moon-covered sun. A total eclipse occurs roughly every 18 months, but because much of the earth is covered by ocean, the path of totality often occurs over water where accessible viewing is limited. Not only does the path of totality seldom occur in populated areas, but it is even rarer that it occurs where you live.


Use books and resources to build your understanding, and then find activities to share with your children to encourage their understanding of the eclipse. The Baylor School of Education's website has an Eclipse Education page, including a list of books, a printable activity booklet and other resources for your family’s education and enjoyment.

Eclipse activities to share with family

Families can participate together in several activities to create more eclipse fun and cultivate a deeper understanding of the event:

The Sun, Moon and You

The only requirements for this activity are you, a friend and a thumb. Stand across from a friend and hold your thumb at different distances from your open eye (other eye closed) until it eclipses their head. This is a great simulation of how the sun (your friend), the moon (your thumb) and the earth (you) will be aligned during the total eclipse. This activity allows you to understand how the moon’s proximity to the earth changes the area of the sun that is covered by just moving your thumb. The reason it’s a total eclipse is because the moon (your thumb) is close to the earth (you).

To make the activity even more fun, you can create a moon sticker or cut out to attach to your or your child’s thumb.

The link below provides an outline of the activity:

Prepare some tools for pinhole imaging

A pinhole camera is a simple optic imaging device. With the help of tools such as a piece of paper and a hole puncher or pin, you will be able to experience the eclipse in a unique way. Light will focus through the small hole that will be punched in the paper (or multiple holes) and projected onto a surface, inverted.

If you are near a tree during the partial part of the eclipse, you will notice the crescents of light on the ground or sidewalk, and they might be dancing around. That’s because the spaces between leaves are acting as pinhole projectors. And the openings are jiggling around as the wind blows the leaves.

Pinhole projection card design

For this activity you need:

  • a piece of card stock or an index card
  • a hole puncher or pin
  • some creativity

With your pin or hole punch you may decide to punch holes in the shape of a heart, star or maybe even your name. In the time leading up to totality, when there is a partial coverage of the sun, placing the paper with your hole punched shape will allow you to observe some amazing shadows on the ground.


Determine a location that will allow you and your family to see and experience the eclipse safely and fully. You could enjoy it with your family at home or in the presence of others, in the city or out in the country. Preceding totality, there will be a 360-degree sunset so make sure your spot has a good view all around.

IMPORTANT! Practice eye safety

Leading up to totality, sunlight will still be shining behind the moon, creating crescent-shaped slices of the sun. If looked at directly, the sun in this phase can damage the eye. It is important that you wear solar safety eye wear, specifically eclipse glasses, prior to and following totality.

DURING totality, you may remove the glasses to fully immerse yourself into the experience, because the moon will be covering all of the sun — even the outer “ring of fire” seen in the October 2023 eclipse — for those four minutes. (The moon is closer to Earth this time.) It will be a few moments of nighttime during the middle of the day, so if wearing eclipse glasses, you won’t be able to see anything.

Glasses are easily purchasable from Amazon, other websites and local stores under the title: Solar Safety Eyewear. Get yours today to fully enjoy the eclipse in all its wonders.


For more than 100 years, the School of Education has advanced Baylor’s mission across the globe while preparing students for a range of careers focused on education, leadership, and human development. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation. Likewise, the School of Education’s graduate programs have attained national recognition for their exemplary preparation of research scholars, educational leaders, innovators, and clinicians. Visit the School of Education website to learn more.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.